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Bob Dylan 2001.10.13 in San Fransisco

From: "Michael Smith" 
Subject: san fran review
Date: Sun, 14 Oct 2001 15:12:28 -0500

Based on the two shows I've seen and from what I've heard
from others, this looks like it's shaping up to be the most
significant tour in a long time. Bob seems clearly
reinvigorated by the new material, which he is obviously and
understandably proud of - he's already played 3 more L&T
songs than he did new songs from TOOM on the entire first
tour in support of that album. In addition, he seems
determined to surprise the audience by mixing up the other
song selections as much as possible. Last night was no

The show at the Bill Graham Civic Center was absolutely
incredible, marred only by some unfortunate sound problems.
Bob's vocals were the best I've ever heard live, featuring
lots of unusual and ambitious phrasing that, more often than
not, was right on target, so direct in its expressiveness.
If the show as a whole was less memorable than the one in
Medford, it was probably only due to the venue itself, which
lacked the down home charm of the small indoor fairgrounds
of the former, had much worse acoustics and because of the
aforementioned technical problems.

My traveling companions and I arrived at 2:00 and a
substantial line of people had alreay formed outside. When
the doors opened we were able to secure a good spot about 20
feet from the stage. The floor was jam-packed with people
and there was very little room for movement. The band took
to the stage right on time and they were all dressed in the
matching maroon suits that they first sported in Atlantic
City last year - except for Bob, who wore a black suit with
a thin silk white scarf tied around his neck.

Wait for the Light to Shine - I love the harmony vocals on
this, especially the conclusion where they sing, "Wait for
the light to, wait for the light to, wait for the light to

My Back Pages - Beautiful rendition, very well sung and the
mixture of Bob's harp and Larry's violin was exquisite.

It's Alright Ma - Well done, but indistinguishable to me
from many other recent versions.

Searching for a Soldier's Grave - Others will disagree but I
never tire of hearing this. I love the melody, I love the
lyrics, I love the harmonies.

Tweedle Dee - This is where the show kicked into high gear
and never turned back. Charlie and Larry were looking at
each other and smiling from across the stage the whole time.
Who knows why - maybe they just love to play it. Charlie's
guitar should have been louder in the mix. It didn't matter
too much because Dylan's vocal was so powerful and got a big
response from the crowd. The way he sang "They run a brick
and tile company" was hilarious. The abrupt stop, start,
stop ending of the song was a real treat too.

Simple Twist of Fate - The first big surprise of the night
and it was a terrific performance. This was different than
any other version that I've heard in that the first 3 verses
were from "her" perspective ("She felt a spark", "She felt
the heat of the night", "She heard the melody rise and
fade") and was followed by three verses from "his"
perspective ("He got out of bed, put his clothes back on",
"He hears the ticking of the clocks", "People tell me it's a

I Don't Believe You - Another welcome surprise and another
gem of a performance. Very authoratatvie vocal and the way
he sang "watery and WEEEEEEEEEET!" drove the crowd into a
frenzy. Capped off by a killer harp solo with very animated
hand gestures from Bob.

Cry Awhile - Yes! The music was very close to the original
but a much sexier vocal than on the album with rapid fire
delivery seguing to elongated phrases and back again. The
song ended with Bob screaming (and I mean screaming) the
last word - WHIIIIIIIIIIILE! Larry played some mean slide
guitar on this.

Masters of War - Much better than Medford. The arrangement
is the same as it's been for a while with the exception of
the guitar licks Bob throws in between lines. Huge crowd
response. The song ended with Dylan repeating the first
verse and again he screamed (and I mean screamed) the last

Love Minus Zero - Yet another nice selection and again
incredibly well sung with Bob sticking close to the original

A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall - The highlight of the evening
and the best version I've heard in a long time! After
rushing through the first two lines, Bob slowed down and
sang very softly and clearly. The bouzouki was really loud
in the mix and it sounded real good. (Strangely, it seemed
as if the sound levels were constantly being readjusted
throughout the show with the result being that many of the
songs sounded very different.)  The "who did you meet" verse
was so heart-rending that I almost cried and I know I wasn't
alone. Individual lines in the song took on new meaning
(some receiving rapturous applause) and it was like hearing
the song for the first time.

Summer Days - Didn't expect it in this slot and was
therefore surprised and pleased. A few of the phrases in the
beginning were wild but it ended up a fine version. For some
reason this makes people move in a way that Tweedle Dee

Sugar Baby - One of the most pleasant consequences of this
new tour is the way everyone in the audience shuts up when
Bob starts singing this. I'm glad he's doing this every
night so that everyone can hear it - I think it'll go down
as one of the all-time great live songs. As with Medford, he
sang, "There ain't no limit to the amount of trouble women
bring/ BUT love is teasing, love is pleasing, love not an
evil thing" - connecting those two lines in a way they
aren't on the album.

Drifter's Escape - The low point of the night. There was
some heavy static coming from Larry's amp at the beginning
of this and then you couldn't hear his guitar at all for the
rest of the song. As a result I thought this was Down in the
Flood until Bob started singing. It was very
percussion-heavy and sounded like a new bizarre arrangement.
Dylan's singing wasn't too hot either but the short harp
solo was sweet.

Rainy Day Women - An unexpectedly GREAT version. Once again
you couldn't hear Larry's steel guitar for the first few
measures but the problem was corrected. It was during this
song that I began thinking about how renewed Dylan's
confidence seems. All the guys in the band were clearly
having a ball. Bob gave Charlie "the nod" and the younger
guitarist played a fast, white-hot solo. Examples of Dylan's
good humor abounded in this performance: He improvised the
whole third verse (as he often does) with the hilarious,
"They'll stone ya then they'll be back/They'll stone ya
whether you are white or black!" He told a joke while
introducing the band mid-song (Dave's the only drummer
around who's better than no drummer at all) and, touchingly,
he introduced Tony as "the most extraordinary Tony Garnier!"
Go, Bob, go!

Things Have Changed - I was real glad to hear this and it
was a great, powerful, driving version. The phrasing was the
most unusual I've heard on this song and it was money. Check
out the tape of this when he sings, "Some things are too
hot-to-touch, the human mind can only stand-so-much" with an
ascending melody. Mind blowing.

Like a Rolling Stone - Plagued by problems but it fought to
be great and succeeded. Larry broke a string and had to
replace his guitar mid-song. Dylan, unsure of which verse to
sing, omitted the opening line of the second verse and then,
later mixed up a line toward the end of the same verse. And
yet, and yet . . . his vocals were on fire and the whole
thing seemed to have more energy and alacrity than other
recent versions.

Knockin' on Heaven's Door - Always sounds more or less the
same but I like this arrangement (what is that new chord
they throw into the third line of each verse?) and I love to
gauge the reaction of the first-time concert goers, who are
always thrown into ecstasy by the opening.

Honest with Me - Those of you who don't dig Larry's slide
guitar on this might really enjoy this performance because
you couldn't hear it for the first half of the song. Of
course they kept playing but it was distracting to watch the
guitar tech fooling around with Larry's amp for a full two
minutes. However, Dylan never seemed bothered by any of the
technical problems all night and gave another great vocal
performance on this. Dave's drumming seems to be becoming
more varied and ambitious. About half way through this he
started pounding on the cymbals in the middle of a verse and
it was really cool. At some other point in the show - can't
remember when - Charlie turned around to Dave in the middle
of a song and applauded him.

Blowin' in the Wind - During the first chorus of this, you
couldn't hear Larry and Charlie singing, "The answer my
friend", only Bob. The problem was then corrected. As with
Hard Rain, certain lines got big applause and all in all it
was a fine version.

I don't know why there were so many sound problems but Bob
just plowed straight ahead, sang incredibly, was obviously
in high spirits and completely won the crowd over. Most of
the audience, in fact, never seemed to notice the sound
problems. And to Bob's credit - this was probably precisely
because Bob never acknowledged there was a problem.

Unfortunately I won't be seeing any more shows but I can't
wait to see the remaining setlists and hear the tapes. This
is obviously a very exciting time to be a Dylan fan.


Date: Thu, 25 Oct 2001 07:42:59 +0200 From: Sven Lewandowski To:, Subject: San Francisco review Dylan at San Francisco, Oct 13, 2001 The show at San Francisco had to face one problem right from the beginning: Last night's show at San Jose was too good. So what could Dylan offer at San Francicso ? For me the show began with a disappointment - but it was not Dylan's fault. At the two shows before the audience was very cool, all nice people around me, nobody was talking, screeming or clapping all the time, but tonight's audience was like I feared the American audiences to be like (I've listened to a lot of bootlegs and very ofter I was able to identify American shows beacuse a lot of people are talking all the time). And I hate people talking while Dylan sings and I can't understand why the go to a concert if they wanna talk. Especially one fatty standing next to me really got on my nerves. It was not just that he was talking to another fatty all the time (may they both burn in hell and since they were so fat they will burn for quite a long time !), he was also doing something that he might call "dancing" - but it was rather pushing around other people with his masses of ugly fat- This guy and some other people who also mistook a concert for a football game (at least they behaved like they were at a football stadium) and distracted me a lot and spoil the beginning of the show (at least for me). I'm sure they had fun - or rather what they would call fun- Dylan opened the show once again with "Wait For The Light To Shine" and it took some time for light to be seen- - because the next songs was "My Back Pages" and it didn't match the performance at Cardiff last year. Dylan's harp playing turned out to be rather weak. "It's Alright, Ma" followed and I liked it - maybe just because they didn't do "Desolation Row" again. Then it was once again time to search for another "Soldier's Grave" and I tought it might now be time to find it and leave the song behind. The electric set opend with "Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum" just like the night before but I think the performance was weaker. I know I told the story already- The song that follow was another one that was performed at my first real good Dylan show but one of the songs that I don't love too much: "Simple Twist of Fate" (but it's okay to hear it once in a while - at least when I share similar feelings as expressed in the song. It's like so many times: sometime a song really touches you, means somethings special to you when you are in a mood that enables you to identify with the story told in a song or if the mood of the song is close to yours. But in these days "Simple Twist" doesn't mean that much to me although I had to think of the song all the time I walked at water front docks). The performance was good and it got me 10 points for the Dylan pool (making sure that I'm at least the best one in my team). As the next song began I didn't at first believe him to perform "I Don't Believe You". Another song I didn't expect but I was really pleased to hear it at a good show (and althought the show at San Jose was much better tonight's show was still a good one). The only other time I heard the song before was at Munich (May, 2nd 1999) and that was a pretty weak show- Towards the end of the song Dylan took his harmonica and just for picking it up he got a huge cheer from the audience. A very fine solo follow and it was a quite long one too. Like always when he played harmonica at these shows in Califoria he really played the harmonica instead of just blowing it. And I really liked him doing such concentrated solos that feature more than just a few notes that are repeated over and over again. "Cry A While" followed and it gave us a reason to cry a little- Like at Sacramento the songs didn't really come out like it should. Maybe the tempo changes are to complicated to be reproduced on stage or maybe the song needs to be rehearsed for some more times. The performance wasn't really bad, but the album version is much better. The the second acoustic set was quite predictable: "Masters Of War" (no comment), "Love Minus Zero/No Limit" witch sounded very good with Larry on pedal steel and "A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall" - the latter the only song that wasn't that predictable. It think nobody expected to hear this long song on two consequtive shows. I think the performance was weaker than the day before but maybe I my judgement is influenced by a kind of disappointment that he did this song again or by the audience that kept talking- A Lot of people danced to "Summer Days" which followed. But like the previous performances of the song tonight's performance lacked of aggressivness in Dylan's voice. He didn't lean into the song like he should and I wondered why he never did. It shouldn't be that hard to invest a little of the commitment he usually invests in "Sugar Baby" which followed and once again was a highlight. Since Dylan performed "The Wicked Messenger" and "Cold Irons Bound" the two shows before and therefore it was no surprise that he chose "Drifter's Escape" tonight. But the performance wasn't as impressive like it used to be last year (by the way: another song that he performed at my first real good.....). "Rainy Day Women" closed the set and I liked it - maybe just because it wasn't "Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat" again and for sure because of Charlie providing some interesting guitar work. "Rainy Day Women" featured also the band introduction with Dylan's often repeated joke on David Kemper as being one of the few drummers that are better than no drummer at all- The encores were no surprise nor outstanding performances. "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" was even disappointing to me. The version performed at Braunschweig (07/05/01) was so much more sophisticated and better that I used to say that I'd like to hear that version of the song every night. I couldn't say this for the version performed at San Francisco. So all in all tonight's show was a kind of decline compared to the show at San Jose the night before but that's not to say that tonight's show was a bad one. It was still a good show altough it didn't feature any song that I haven't heard before and although Dylan's phrasing was not as convincing as the night before. Cheers Sven comments are welcome, please email to:
2001: February - March - April - May - June - July - August - October -